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Anchorage Museum Pauses Free Admission Policy For Alaska Natives

A museum in Anchorage, Alaska has put the policy of free admission to Alaska Natives on hold after public outcry.

On January 3, the Anchorage Museum announced a new policy that granted free entry to the museum to all Alaska Natives. According to the policy, the visitors did not have to provide any proof of their native ancestry; all they had to do was self-identify. As per the announcement, the new policy was in line with the museum’s commitment to “honouring Indigenous people and improving access to their cultural belongings.”

However, since its introduction, the policy proved to be divisive in the city of Anchorage. Some – mostly belonging to the Indigenous community – praised the decision. This included the Native Village of Ekutna, which is the only federally recognized Native tribe in Alaska. However, many others viewed the policy as discriminatory against Alaskans who were not Natives. One of them was Donald Craig Mitchell, an attorney in Alaska, who said that the move was discriminatory under the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

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However, on Tuesday, the Anchorage Museum issues a press release announcing to pause the policy for now. The statement said: “[The pause] is in the interest of making sure we are in line with our intention to honor Indigenous people and provide access to their cultural belongings while also fulfilling the broader community considerations and applicable museum guidelines and the law.” The museum also clarified that there were no legal challenges to the policy, implying that the policy is under review for other reasons.